Apr 17 2007
03:28 pm

Below is a blog entry from the Philadelphia Inquirer today. It could not have been more timely, as far as I was concerned, particularly when I was forced to sit and listen to the empty homilies that Bush uttered at the Memorial Service this afternoon at Blacksburg. 'Forced' because I was stuck in traffic when NPR broadcast the insert of his words. I tried to turn down the volume, but the piece was longer than I thought and I caught bits of it, despite my best efforts.

Can anyone explain why he had to GO TO Blacksburg?

Read more after the jump...

UPDATED: Please stay home

There's sometimes a thin line between the debate that usually should be held -- with at least a small amount of distance -- after a public tragedy like the Virginia Tech massacre, and raw, ugly politicization.

But this could be the worst politicizing ever:

President Bush's staff has talked to Virginia Tech officials about the possibility of Bush visiting campus this week, Tech spokesman Larry Hincker said at a press conference this evening.
There's nothing like a senseless bloodbath to build back that low approval rating, is there? The most puzzling thing is this: What on earth could Bush possibly have to say to the people of the Virginia Tech community? The man has been in office for more than six years and has done absolutely nothing to reduce violence in this country.

UPDATE: Bush is indeed going to Virginia Tech, with Laura, this afternoon.

Meanwhile, here's a passionate plea from a Virginia Tech alumnus (a 1979 grad, with also a masters and Ph.D. from the university) for the president not to visit the campus:

I find your desire to attend the memorial service on Virginia Tech to be just another callous and manipulative act. Do these people suffering from an inexplicable tragedy the favor of staying in Washington. You have nothing but empty sentiment to offer. However, to accommodate and protect your monstrous ego, security procedures will destroy the emotional sanctity of the memorial service. You know that, but you cannot resist the temptation to distract people from your failed foreign and domestic policies, not to mention the corruption threatening the survival of your terrible tenure as the president.

ultron's picture

That's what presidents do.

That's what presidents do. They're figureheads. They go, offer comfort, say a few words, and so forth.

If it was President Kerry you'd object?

Rachel's picture

One of the good things about

One of the good things about Clinton that I hope even his critics would acknowledge is his amazing ability to project empathy with folks. He might bring some actual comfort to such an occasion.

Bush has no such ability. And he's not loved on college campuses. Plus he's got the aftermath of Katrina hanging over his head (that was a lovely speech in Jackson Square, followed by turning out the lights and pretty much forgetting everything he'd just said).

I won't question his motives for going since I can't read his heart, but I do doubt he brought much comfort to most folks.

P.S. Kerry also lacks said ability.

Carole Borges's picture

It was close to Washington...

It might also have been a wise political move because Bush hasn't attended any military funerals. Even though my opinion of GWB waffles somewhere between "not too bright" and "dangerous", he is a father and hopefuly really did want to offer his sympathy. Laura, the librarian. has also been very public about her interest in education. Between the aircraft carrier fiasco (Mission Accomplished) and the Katrina tour amidst total disastor, President Bush's public appearances and his interest and caring about the little people always seems a little suspect. His speech today was neither notabe nor moving.

gttim's picture

This has been going on for 6

This has been going on for 6 years. I doubt anybody is shocked that he will use it for a political photo op.

CBT's picture

The President's visit to

The President's visit to Blacksburg is no different than visits to New York after 9/11 or to New Orleans after Katrina or to Florida after the hurricanes. Presidents go to express the sympathy and caring of the Nation in the wake of such events.

The 'shameless' comments of our President today:

"Laura and I have come to Blacksburg today with hearts full of sorrow. This is a day of mourning for the Virginia Tech community -- and it is a day of sadness for our entire nation. We've come to express our sympathy. In this time of anguish, I hope you know that people all over this country are thinking about you, and asking God to provide comfort for all who have been affected."

And, there's more:

"It's impossible to make sense of such violence and suffering. Those whose lives were taken did nothing to deserve their fate. They were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now they're gone -- and they leave behind grieving families, and grieving classmates, and a grieving nation."

"In such times as this, we look for sources of strength to sustain us. And in this moment of loss, you're finding these sources everywhere around you. These sources of strength are in this community, this college community. You have a compassionate and resilient community here at Virginia Tech. Even as yesterday's events were still unfolding, members of this community found each other; you came together in dorm rooms and dining halls and on blogs. One recent graduate wrote this: "I don't know most of you guys, but we're all Hokies, which means we're family. To all of you who are okay, I'm happy for that. For those of you who are in pain or have lost someone close to you, I'm sure you can call on anyone of us and have help any time you need it."

And, even this:

"These sources of strength are also in the faith that sustains so many of us. Across the town of Blacksburg and in towns all across America, houses of worship from every faith have opened their doors and have lifted you up in prayer. People who have never met you are praying for you; they're praying for your friends who have fallen and who are injured. There's a power in these prayers, real power. In times like this, we can find comfort in the grace and guidance of a loving God. As the Scriptures tell us, "Don't be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

"And on this terrible day of mourning, it's hard to imagine that a time will come when life at Virginia Tech will return to normal. But such a day will come. And when it does, you will always remember the friends and teachers who were lost yesterday, and the time you shared with them, and the lives they hoped to lead. May God bless you. May God bless and keep the souls of the lost. And may His love touch all those who suffer and grieve."

The comments and trip were entirely appropriate. Not one mention of politics or party or issues which divide this Nation. The condolences of a nation. The sadness of today and the hope of tomorrow. It was good the President went to Blacksburg.

rikki's picture

To all of you who are okay,

To all of you who are okay, I'm happy for that.

The President's comments are appropriate. And generic. I'd love to set the bar that low for the guy, but he is a fuck up on virtually everything unrelated to the financial interests of the Carlyle Group. If he's a figurehead, couldn't he at least be an eloquent one capable of transcending the mundane?

To all of you with common interests with the Carlyle Group, I'm happy for that! What's that? You're on the ROTC path to getting your chunk of the profiteer pie? No problem, we'll call up the National Guard so the officer class need not sacrifice. Ever since I quit the National Guard because they started requiring drug tests for pilots I've been the decider!

R. Neal's picture

And we can expect the same

And we can expect the same kind of followup from our President on the Gun Culture of Violence as we saw with his followup on Katrina. But at least he hasn't declared war on South Korea, so there's that.

Andy Axel's picture

Yuh huh

Presidents go to express the sympathy and caring of the Nation

When was the last time the President attended a memorial service for those KIA in Iraq?


"If people think nature is their friend, then they sure don't need an enemy." K. Vonnegut, 1922-2007

Sarge's picture


Over three thousand American men and women have been killed in Iraq because of the orders by George Bush, he never goes to any military funeral but shows up at Virginia Tech, go figure.

marat's picture

I assume that he could not

I assume that he could not make his 'moving' statement from Washington, and that his presence did not, as the blog notes it probably did, in any way intrude on the private grief of those who actually knew the victims.

There was an interesting piece on Olbermann tonight, regarding the fact that we lost 32 young people by violence over the last 10 days in Iraq. Yet, there was no 'moving' message for their friends and families. I don't think Bush even acknowledges that people die in Iraq any longer. Perhaps if he were to offer up one of the twins, perhaps as a nurse, or how about as a base librarian at one of our bases in Iraq?

Please don't tell me that he has to serve the purpose of the national tear duct. Clinton was good at it, probably because he actually felt some empathy with the victims. Bush comes across as robotic, adopting the appropriate masks for the occasion. But his words don't convey anything except opportunism.

Below is the URL of the original blog at philly.com

Brian A.'s picture


Maybe my memory is getting bad, but I don't recall Bush rushing down to New Orleans the day after Katrina struck.

Anyway, it's not a big issue to me that Bush was there. But I did get a big laugh when watching TV news earlier today and one of the "journalists" made a comment about Bush doing this to bring the nation together. Yeah, the guy whose political strategy since 1999 has been to divide the country is now going to bring us together. Funny.

Brian A.
I'd rather be cycling.

Factchecker's picture

We're dying over there so we don't have to...

...we lost 32 young people by violence over the last 10 days in Iraq. Yet, there was no 'moving' message for their friends and families.

"But they were willing to die for"... er, uh--what again?

Factchecker's picture

No better time for cornpone politickin' 'n' pickin'

Maybe my memory is getting bad, but I don't recall Bush rushing down to New Orleans the day after Katrina struck.

This is what I remember most about Bush's immediate response to Katrina after the disaster became known.

Sven's picture

Now, now, people. I'm sure

Now, now, people. I'm sure he hated doing it as much as you hated seeing him do it.

lovable liberal's picture

Stop the presses

Defending Duhbya on this one, even though I can't stand the sound of his voice: This is part of the President's job, for reasons I don't really understand, but still one of the duties of the office. The fact that Bill was good at it and Duhbya isn't is just one more thing that works that way.

Liberty and justice for all.

Andy Axel's picture

Agreed. And.

32 dead in Blacksburg = tragedy.

32 dead in Iraq = routine.

Someone please explain to me the difference. Chad?


"If people think nature is their friend, then they sure don't need an enemy." K. Vonnegut, 1922-2007

CBT's picture

Simple Andy Iraq - country

Simple Andy

Iraq - country at war

Virginia Tech - college campus

WhitesCreek's picture


America is supposed to be at war and have a war president. What's really going on is that America IS at war WITH the President.

Come on over, CBT. Help us get rid of this creep and all of his enablers. You know you want to do it...Don't be afraid.


Andy Axel's picture

Simple Andy No, actually,

Simple Andy

No, actually, that answer would be "simplistic."

I trust that you grasp the difference, and I don't have to explain it to you like I would to #9.

Are college kids worth that much more than soldiers?


"If people think nature is their friend, then they sure don't need an enemy." K. Vonnegut, 1922-2007

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